The Right to Information – Discovery Process in Family Law Cases

gavel on marble

The division of the finances including assets and debts during a divorce starts with the identification of the assets and liabilities involved in the case. It is not uncommon for one of the spouses to not know the family finances. You should not be embarrassed if this is the case. It is commonplace for one spouse to handle the financials. This may have been habit or a result of the division of household responsibilities, but your family law team will help you learn the financial facts.

When a divorce or post-decree action is commenced, each party will be asked to complete a Financial Disclosure Statement. This is a detailed disclosure of your income and expenses as well as your assets and debts. The completion of this disclosure, to the extent you know the information, is the first step in moving forward with the financial side of your divorce. If you do not know the answers, we will help you locate the information or disclose that you simply do not know the details as of yet.

If the Financial Disclosure Statements of both parties result in missing or incomplete information or if questions remain, then there are several additional tools to secure the data. These tools include but are not limited to the following:

A. Interrogatories are written questions to be answered by the other party.
B. A Notice to Produce seeks documents to be provided by the other party.
C. Subpoenas for Records issued to non-parties seeking information about the parties.
D. Subpoena for Depositions of non-parties seeking oral testimony under oath about matters relating to the Divorce.
E. Appraisals completed by professionals determining the value of assets such as real estate.
F. Business Valuations, if applicable, to determine the value of the business interest.
G. Depositions of the parties which involve oral testimony under oath and
H. Electronic/Computer data production.

All of these tools become the basis for gathering information to understand the entire scope of assets which will then be classified as the marital or non-marital property of the estate and then divided. This process, known as discovery, is a lengthy but necessary step in your divorce. It is essential that you learn this information prior to resolving your case. If you fail to investigate fully and waive discovery, you generally cannot come back in the future to seek assets you failed to investigate.

 

This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.


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